History (nearly) repeats itself with the introduction of Paid Family Leave
October 29, 2012: It was a sad day for many New Yorkers as properties were swept away in Superstorm Sandy, businesses went under, and more than 8.1 million homes across the U.S. were left without electricity for a week or more.
Superstorm Sandy caused losses totaling $19 billion dollars, resulting in delayed payouts and financial hardship to the insurance agencies that paid out more than they’d earned in premiums. Many P&C brokers struggled to survive.
Meanwhile, Zurich Insurance Company, a leading global business insurance carrier, had just left the New York State DBL market a week prior due to a number of factors. Turmoil and uncertainty plagued the industry, as New York tri-state area business owners struggled to pick up the pieces and adopt a “new normal” after Sandy.
Here we are almost exactly five years later, and the entire U.S. is banding together to assist those suffering from the aftereffects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida.
In New York, as we write this, the wind whips outside the windows of our Long Island headquarters, and the nearby Costco parking lot is packed as Long Islanders brace for a tropical storm —which could be the first of many this ominous hurricane season.
In the disability insurance sector, changes are once again brewing that have nothing to do with Mother Nature’s wrath. Paid Family Leave, a necessary insurance coverage that will provide employees with a living wage as they take time off to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child, care for an elderly parent, or hold down the fort while their spouse serves in the military, may burden some disability insurance carriers past their breaking point.
We don’t want to be alarmist. We only want to report the news with our analysis as we see it.
The Problems with PFL that No One Else Is Talking About
There are only a few select carriers that have committed to write PFL, which is offered as a mandatory rider to DBL coverage in New York State beginning January 1, 2018. Fortunately, those carriers are doing an excellent job of educating small business owners and HR directors about the implications of the coverage, as well as giving brokers what they need to know about the policies. DBL Center brokers have the added advantage of our industry experience and knowledge, along with access to educational webinars and live informational sessions. We’ve worked hard to make the transition to mandatory PFL coverage easy for brokers and small business owners alike.
But some challenges remain. Because PFL coverage is mandatory and written with DBL coverage, brokers will be left with fewer choices for DBL. Some carriers have already left the market, just as Zurich did five years ago. We expect many more to exit in the beginning of 2019, after the numbers come in for the first year of PFL coverage.
PFL, as it stands, is not profitable for insurance carriers. Payouts could easily total more than premiums, leaving carriers in the same position P&C brokers faced immediately following Superstorm Sandy. Some carriers will write PFL riders—because the only other choice is to leave the game altogether. But they may not offer commissions on the riders. Some carriers are recommending that brokers write enriched DBL on their existing policies to earn the commissions they expected from PFL.
Enriched DBL: The Answer to Bigger Commissions
There are a number of reasons to enrich DBL coverage right now. Not only is enriched DBL one of the more profitable products for brokers to write, it also provides customers with the best coverage for their money.
As an example, small business owners can enrich DBL coverage in $50 increments for just 44 cents every $50, up to $850 total. For an investment of just $5 a year, employees can get $50 more per week for up to 26 weeks. It doesn’t make sense not to enrich DBL. Paid Family Leave was carefully designed to provide employees with a living wage while they are out on leave. Mandatory DBL coverage only pays a maximum of $170 per week. Who can live on that in New York?
Most states that offer Paid Family Leave offer comparable benefits for disability claims. This helps reduce fraudulent claims and helps maintain employee morale by leveling the playing field and offering all employees comparable benefits if they need them.
DBL Center Brokers: Weathering the Storm
With Harvey and Irma on our minds, New Yorkers last week prepared for a storm that never came. Just like Mother Nature, the insurance industry is fickle. And, in both cases, it’s important to be prepared.
Carriers can exit at any time, for any reason, just as Zurich did in 2012. Who will be next? Brokers who align with DBL Center preferred carriers who are writing PFL riders are protecting themselves against changes in the marketplace.
Educate your customers about PFL riders before someone else does. Be their authoritative source and guide them to the right decisions, including enriching DBL so it is in line with PFL benefits.
Fortunately for brokers working with The DBL Center as their insurance wholesaler, we make it easy to write enriched DBL policies and earn greater commissions. Stay tuned, because next week we talk with our Director of DBL and TDB Benefits, Selena Kutschera, to show you just how simple it is to increase commissions with enriched DBL in three easy steps.
Meanwhile, stay safe and dry. The best protection against any storm is the right preparation. Our thoughts are with those across the country affected by this season’s hurricanes and storms.
by Dawn Allcot
Autumn is approaching and, here at The DBL Center, it’s one of our favorite times of the year. Autumn on Long Island is absolutely beautiful, with so much to do. Baseball season comes to a climactic ending with the pennant race heating up and the promise of post-season play. (We don’t want to talk about the Mets, but will the Yankees make it?) Football season begins. Weekends at the wineries on the East End are a perfect way to relax with family and friends. Fall festivals bring fun for all ages.
Autumn is also the time of harvest – when hard work comes to fruition to create a bounty. This is definitely what’s happening at The DBL Center this year. Our efforts of the first three quarters combined with legislation changes have resulted in tremendous growth for our business and expanded commission opportunities for our brokers across the country —especially here in New York and New Jersey.
PFL Is Here
If you’ve been reading our blog and newsletter, you’ve no doubt heard about the changes to Paid Family Leave. NOW, this autumn, is the time, if you haven’t already started, to educate your customers about this mandatory insurance. PFL coverage is written as a rider to existing DBL policies in New York, and employers are permitted to begin withholding to pay the premiums. If you haven’t begun discussing coverage options—and suggesting enriched DBL as an additional policy upgrade—now is the time.
As part of our expanded marketing and outreach efforts, the DBL Center launched a webinar series this autumn to explain this new coverage to our brokers. We have a resource center in the works, and also recently launched a video Q&A with DBL Center President Michael Cohen discussing some surprising facts about PFL that even the most savvy brokers may not know.
The webinar, video and resource center for PFL are just the beginning. We also have plans to launch a PR and marketing campaign designed to educate New York business owners about PFL, which will help our brokers sell the coverage by creating a more knowledgeable audience.
New Hires Help DBL Center Continue to Provide Personalized Service
Our growth initiatives also extend over the bridge into New Jersey. The DBL Center recently hired two new employees to help accommodate our rapid expansion and better serve our brokers. Lori Rose joins The DBL Center to serve our New Jersey brokers as Assistant Vice President of Ancillary Lines. Lori has been in the insurance industry specializing in employee benefits for over 25 years, with expertise in Group Life, Disability, Dental and Vision. We are excited that she is bringing her expertise and passion for insurance sales and service to DBL Center brokers.
In addition, Melissa Bilka has joined The DBL Center team as Benefits Coordinator. A newcomer to the insurance industry, with a degree in Mathematics Education from Long Island University, Melissa will assist our expanding Group Ancillary Department in providing the level of white-glove service our brokers and their clients have come to expect.
DBL Center App Goes Online
The DBL Center has always been on the cutting edge of technology, and as we enter the fourth quarter of 2017, this remains true. In addition to an upgraded database that will streamline operations in-house, we’ve launched our new app that helps our brokers manage their accounts from anywhere they might be working—in the office, at home, or on the road.
Look for Even More from Your Insurance Wholesaler
As we move into what promises to be our most exciting fourth quarter in our 40-year history, we have even more in store to help our brokers with a consultative approach to insurance sales. Stay tuned to our blog and sign up for our newsletter to stay on the forefront of industry developments and learn how to expand your book of business with minimal effort.
And about those Yankees? Through our partnership with Steiner Sports, we can help you set up celebrity appearances or even reward your best customers with once-in-a-lifetime sports experiences this autumn. From PFL to home plate, we’ve got you covered.
Bold statement from DBL Center President Michael Cohen leads into how brokers can grow their book of business with PFL
P&C and health brokers know that enriched DBL in New York can be a tough sell.
As a mandatory benefit, DBL is a no-brainer, but let’s face it: The commissions aren’t making anyone rich. That’s why we promote enriched DBL, as well as ancillary benefits, including vision, dental, and even life insurance as a way for brokers to expand their book of business and make more money.
But with the introduction of the Paid Family Leave Act, DBL is finally relevant again. That is to say, it’s not only making headlines everywhere in New York, it’s also become profitable. “Health brokers, life brokers, P&C brokers, even estate planners and CPAs are using PFL as a tool to broaden their book of business. And, of course, here at The DBL Center, we love it,” says Michael Cohen, DBL Center President.
Questions about PFL?
If you’re reading this, you probably know that PFL coverage, which goes into effect in New York on January 1, 2018, will be written as a rider to existing DBL policies. And that employers were allowed to begin deducting premiums as of July 1, 2017. “A lot of brokers and employers face some confusion or hesitation about the payroll deductions,” says Michael Cohen. “I’m telling people not to get hung up on the deduction, but instead think about how you are marketing PFL to grow your book. As brokers, at the end of the day, it’s all about taking advantage of these opportunities to increase profits.”
The DBL Center is taking a multi-faceted, multi-tiered strategic plan to marketing PFL which, in turn, helps their brokers. “We’re relying on our relationships with top carriers, and differentiating ourselves with educational content, including webinars and thought leadership articles. We are building an even stronger social media presence on LinkedIn, and we are leveraging the relationships I have in the entertainment industry to organize seminars and talks with celebrity tie-ins,” says Michael Cohen. “In essence, we are working hard to make the industry fun again while sharing information and promoting a very profitable – and important – product.”
Still have more questions about PFL and how to use it to grow your book of business?
DBL Center President Michael Cohen recently recorded a video with ShelterPoint that tackles many of the toughest questions about PFL coverage in New York.
Make sure to watch to the end, because you won’t believe what Michael Cohen says about how PFL will change the DBL industry —for the better. Watch the video here, and use the information to drive PFL marketing campaigns within your own brokerage.
Earlier this year, The DBL Center announced the upcoming launch of a mobile app and dedicated website that provides our brokers access to a DBL Center app dashboard to manage all your accounts easily online, from anywhere with Internet access.
By the beginning of Fall 2017, DBL Center brokers can look forward to seeing the app rolled out and fully functional. “We’re on the time frame we expected for the successful launch of this app by the end of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth,” says DBL Center President Michael Cohen. “I couldn’t be prouder of our team for meeting our very ambitious interim deadlines. As we round the turn to completion, I’m excited to see the app change the way our brokers conduct their daily business in faster, more convenient ways.”
Cohen wants to clarify the functionality of the DBL Center app and desktop site, based on feedback he’s heard from those who have viewed the beta version. “This is not a portal,” he says. “This is a dashboard that provides our brokers with everything they need from an account management basis to compare premiums and bind policies easily from anywhere they happen to be.”
Of course, The DBL Center employees are still available to answer questions and provide the same level of white-glove service we always have. But the app gives brokers a more convenient way to conduct business, whether they are at home, in their office, or on the road.
When you log in to the DBL Center app or desktop site, you will see your personalized insurance dashboard. Depending on the choices you select, you’ll be taken to the carrier’s site to get a quote or bind a policy.
For brokers who work with multiple carriers, the app makes it easy to access all their accounts from one central location. “It’s similar to the way someone would use their Universal Remote to control their TV, Blu-ray, and Netflix, all from one device,” says Cohen, relying on an equally high-tech analogy to pinpoint the convenience and ease-of-use the app will provide to brokers.
Additionally, brokers can view other choices from the dashboard—options they may not have previously considered for their clients. “Property and casualty brokers who normally write disability will now have the opportunity to view ancillary benefits or Paid Family Leave policies directly from the app’s central dashboard. It’s all integrated, which makes it easier to manage existing policies and look at ways to expand your book of business.”
In addition, brokers can consider different carriers and see the vast range of choices in A+ rated carriers The DBL Center offers its customers.
When DBL Center brokers sign online to bind a policy with fewer than 50 lives, they will be prompted to establish a login and password for the DBL Center Dashboard and mobile app. “We want to make sure every one of our brokers has the opportunity to hear about our new dashboard and mobile app and to sign up as soon as they are ready,” says Cohen.
The DBL Center will also host live webinars and provide instructional material to guide brokers’ through the use of the app, which is already incredibly intuitive and designed to address the brokers’ needs with an easy-to-navigate interface.
Finally, The DBL Center app will allow brokers to sign up for direct deposit, to have commission deposited electronically into their bank accounts, eliminating the hassle and stress of waiting for paper checks. While direct deposit has been common in many industries for years, few brokers have had the chance to appreciate the convenience and peace-of-mind they will enjoy receiving commissions through direct pay methods.
“We are taking what my father, David Cohen, created 40 years ago and we are using the latest technology to bring The DBL Center into the future, ahead of our competitors, and on the cutting edge for insurance sales,” says Cohen. “We can’t wait to hear the feedback from our brokers when they log in for the first time and discover how their back office processes are streamlined thanks to the app.”
The DBL Center… More than Just Disability Coverage…
Discover the benefits of our white-glove service …
Take advantage of numerous member benefits, from networking opps to discounts on important services through New York Business Council
If you’ve been in the insurance brokerage business for any length of time, you understand how important networking is. Whether you use inbound marketing and SEO to sell insurance products online or rely on real-world networking events and connections to expand your book-of-business, if you want to grow, you must sign new clients.
The DBL Center Ltd. has partnered with the Business Council of New York State to help our brokers connect with hundreds of small and large business owners across New York State. The New York Business Council offers a host of benefits to its members, including:
• A free landing page on the “Made in New York” website to let members know about their services
• Personal introductions, upon request, to any other NYBC member
• Unlimited access to New York Business Council Human Resources/Labor Government Affairs Director, Frank Kerbein
• Free webinars for members, focusing on topics such as HR issues, Paid Family Leave, and Cyber Security
• Live networking events focusing on business taxes, the environment, and other issues relevant to New York business owners
Why Join the New York Business Council
When The DBL Center Ltd. first joined The Business Council, we investigated its benefits closely to determine if the membership fees were worthwhile for our industry, our location, and the size of our business. We discovered many opportunities for an insurance wholesaler and, of course, insurance broker firms, within our state.
It’s no secret, in the past year, we’ve expanded our Web presence and Internet marketing to better educate and serve insurance brokers across the country. But, at the same time, we continue seeking ways to better serve our brokers in New York and across the Tri-state area. The New York Business Council provides the means to do so, with increased networking connections, access to businesses who need our clients’ services for NYS DBL and Paid Family Leave benefits, and discounts on a number of required purchases for New York businesses. “Our members join us for a variety of reasons, but the primary ones are: advocacy, networking, brand visibility and recognition, new business development, and discounts,” says Peter A. Bucci, Director, Membership, for The Business Council of New York State.
He continues, “A number of our members partner with us to help promote their product or service. We have nearly twenty Affinity Partners that provide our members with discounts on everything from car rentals, hotels, payroll services, office supplies, energy, sports memorabilia, shipping, and much more.”
The New York Business Council and The DBL Center Work Together to Increase Opportunities Downstate
Until recently, The Business Council of New York State has operated primarily upstate, with its annual meeting at the Sagamore Resort in Lake George and numerous networking events across the regions of central and western New York.
The DBL Center Ltd. seeks to expand NYBC membership on Long Island and in the New York City boroughs. We recently hosted two informational seminars on Paid Family Leave, followed by networking happy hours, on Long Island and in midtown Manhattan in partnership with The Business Council and our largest insurance carriers.
The more brokers join The Business Council, the more events we can host in the Tri-State area, enabling even more businesses to take advantage of the low rates, wide range of ancillary benefits, and exemplary service provided by brokers who use The DBL Center Ltd. as their back-office for DBL and other benefits.
Join a 100+ Year Legacy as a Member of The Business Council of New York State
The Business Council is a 103-year-old membership association whose nearly 2,500 members include Fortune 500 companies, colleges and universities, manufacturers, professional firms, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations. Isn’t it time you joined to take advantage of the benefits and networking opportunities?
As a Business Council member, The DBL Center Ltd. is happy to answer any questions you may have about membership or assist with your application. Membership fees are based on the size of your business and are tax deductible, so even smaller New York businesses may find membership worthwhile.
Contact us today to find out more about partnering with the New York Business Council, taking advantage of fun networking opportunities across the state, and expanding your book of business with New York-based companies who require mandatory DBL, enriched DBL, and new Paid Family Leave insurance.
One of The DBL Center’s preferred carrier partners, AmTrust, offers the information you need to help your clients get ready for PFL and ensure compliance.
“At the early stage of any new insurance regulation, education is key.” This is how Joy Maas, Director of Marketing, Sales, and Accountant Management for AmTrust Financial Services, a top provider of New York and NJ state disability benefits, began our recent conversation about the Paid Family Leave regulations going into effect January 1, 2018.
For employers, education means learning how to ensure compliance with the new regulations, understanding what the PFL benefit covers, and knowing where to turn with questions they might have.
For our insurance brokers, it means partnering with carriers, through The DBL Center, who are prepared to offer PFL as a rider to existing DBL policies. More importantly, it means taking advantage of the tools and resources available so that you can continue to educate your clients on what they need to know.
“One of the best ways brokers can get more attention and write more business, right now, is to be the expert on the topic of PFL,” Maas continues. “Be the educator.”
Resources for Brokers
Since the day the news broke about PFL, The DBL Center has kept our brokers updated with information via our blog, newsletters, and a seminar series hosted and sponsored by The DBL Center and featuring our top carriers.
Brokers who show their customers they are well-versed in PFL will be in a position to earn additional business by writing PFL riders to existing DBL policies, and brokers who write their business with The DBL Center have a choice of top carriers and a host of resources at their fingertips.
PFL Compliance is Key
Of all the details available about PFL, compliance is, perhaps, the most critical. Brokers can use consultative selling techniques to build trust and explain how employers can purchase PFL coverage to avoid hefty fines and liabilities.
Employers should know, PFL compliance requires that they:
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Additionally, employers should know that the Workers’ Comp Board is allowed to assess non-compliance penalties up to ½ of 1 percent of the employers’ weekly payroll for the period of non-compliance, as well as mandating that the employer pay any PFL claims. An additional penalty of up to $500 may also be assessed.
Non-compliance is pricey, while PFL compliance is simple. And although we don’t know the premium rates at this time, we should know soon. When the rate is announced, you’ll be sure to read about it here on The DBL Center blog and in our newsletter.
Let the Education Continue
Maas asserts that the brokers who are willing to educate their clients on PFL are the ones who will win the business—and possibly even sell enriched DBL policies at the same time. “Let your clients know what PFL means, how it looks, and what they can do to prepare,” she tells brokers.
Maas and her colleague, David Clark, will co-present a seminar sponsored by The DBL Center Ltd. and hosted by DBL Center Partner Michael Cohen on June 7, 2017, from 2 to 4 PM at The DBL Center headquarters in Melville, NY. For details please send an email to email@example.com. Space is limited.
At this fun and informative event, both AmTrust and DBL Center representatives will answer our brokers’ questions about PFL and share all the details you need to sell this new mandatory benefit knowledgeably.
The DBL Center and ShelterPoint Life help clear up confusion about Paid Family Leave in New York
Are you ready for Paid Family Leave in New York? No doubt, employees are ready to enjoy more socially conscious, financially viable leave to care for newborn children, aging or sick loved ones, or adopted or foster children. But many employers still have questions and concerns about the policy. Here’s what DBL brokers should know in order to educate their customers.
1. Employers can begin payroll deductions to pay for PFL premiums as early as July 1.
Just as individuals may begin saving money in advance of an important event, employers can begin making payroll deductions for PFL beginning this July. Because DBL and PFL premiums will be due annually on a concurrent basis, this timing can help business owners manage cash flow as they phase in this new benefit. “Collecting PFL premium from payroll early alleviates some of the upfront financial burden on the employer,” writes insurance carrier ShelterPoint Life in a blog post on the company’s PFL micro-site.
2. Employers should consider continuity of operations and contingency planning in anticipation of employees using PFL beginning January 2018.
Contingency planning is important for any organization, at any time. But new PFL regulations could make it more financially feasible for new fathers to take time off to be with their new babies, for mothers to take extended maternity leave, and for employees of any age to take time off to care for loved ones without the financial concerns they might have had in the past. To maintain company morale and efficient business operations, it’s important to have a plan in place to temporarily fill these positions.
3. Employers should understand how and when their employees can use Paid Family Leave.
Employers will want to consider how they manage Paid Family Leave and other Paid Time Off. It’s important to understand:
4. Not every insurance carrier will offer PFL coverage.
PFL coverage is a rider to DBL policies, and both benefits will be mandatory in the state of New York beginning January 2018. However, not all insurance carriers will elect to offer PFL coverage. If a carrier elects not to provide PFL coverage, they must exit the DBL market and notifiy the insurance regulators accordingly.
For brokers, this means some of your customers will have to move their DBL policies to a new carrier as early as July 1. At The DBL Center, we’re committed to helping our brokers move those policies to preferred carriers prepared to offer DBL policies with PFL riders.
5. For employers, choosing the right broker will be the key to a seamless transition.
The DBL insurance industry is expecting a shake-up. Brokers who choose The DBL Center will be prepared to weather the storm. And employers who choose our brokers will find the transition seamless, as The DBL Center provides our usual white-glove, white-label service and acts as a full-service, back office to write and issue DBL policies with PFL riders. The new PFL coverage has been years in the making, and The DBL Center is ready to help our brokers educate and serve their customers.
Have more questions? Consider attending our free seminar, held May 10, 2018, from 3 to 5 PM at The NYC Friars Club, 57 E 55th Street, NY, NY, sponsored by The DBL Center, ShelterPoint Life, and the New York Business Council. RSVP today at michael.cohen @dblcntr.com, as seating is limited. Refreshments will be served.
The opportunities under Paid Family Leave are too powerful to ignore.
Are you an insurance broker worried about managing the added operational and transactional requirements of New York’s new Paid Family Leave laws? Although the rate has yet to be announced (as of this writing), and no one knows the commission potential, one top DBL carrier isn’t worried — and says you shouldn’t be either.
New York State PFL is one of the most comprehensive policies of its kind in the country offering paid time off and job security for employees. We covered some of the specifics of the mandatory Paid Family Leave benefits here. But if you’re a broker, you probably still have questions. Fortunately, The DBL Center, along with ShelterPoint Life, one of our top carriers, is prepared with answers.
How Much Commission Can Brokers Earn?
Commissions will depend on the rate, which is yet-to-be-announced, although we’re expecting to find out by early-to-mid May. “Our commitment is we are going to do everything possible to make fair payments to brokers,” says DeWitt M. Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer for ShelterPoint Life, a top-rated insurance carrier poised to offer Paid Family Leve coverage through brokers across New York State.
Because of the additional premiums that will be deducted from employee wages and paid by employers, there could be a “nice increase in potential commission revenue,” continues Smith. “We believe the State appreciates the efforts involved by the brokers, and will make it possible for us to offer incremental increases in broker commissions.”
In short… we’re still waiting to find out how much commission brokers can earn. But The DBL Center and ShelterPoint Life are ready to make it as easy as possible for brokers to streamline PFL sales, enabling brokers to maximize those potential profits. “We’re working to take the worry and stress out of all the transactional and compliance-related issues that go along with PFL,” says Smith.
How Much Work Will It Take?
Writing PFL coverage will represent an added step in a consultative selling approach for DBL brokers in New York. In spite of the news coverage, many employers and HR executives still don’t understand what PFL means or what they need to do to get coverage in place. Employers can begin making payroll deductions for this coverage as early as July 1, so it’s up to you, the trusted broker, to educate your customers on their options.
Fortunately, ShelterPoint Life and The DBL Center are working to make it easy. If you currently write your NYS DBL policies with ShelterPoint Life through The DBL Center, PFL coverage will take the form of a simple rider added to the DBL policy. “For brokers accustomed to working with us in a simple, automated way online, adding PFL coverage to existing policies should be easy,” says Smith.
Brokers who offer PFL should also be ready for an influx of new customers, as only select carriers will write PFL coverage. Brokers who work with The DBL Center have an advantage, because our brokers can continue to write both DBL and PFL coverage policies through us.
My Customers Have Questions. Where Can I Go To Find the Answers?
The PFL education process will take time. Yet, it represents a great opportunity for brokers who work with The DBL Center to employ their consultative selling skills to give customers the answers they can’t find elsewhere. “We’ve had a dedicated task force in place since the day the law was signed,” notes Smith. “We also have a robust external communications strategy, with a dedicated PFL micro-site, blog, and newsletter designed to provide answers to brokers, employers, and employees.”
Browse the ShelterPoint PFL micro-site, formulate a marketing strategy to educate customers, and be certain to turn to The DBL Center should you (or your customers) have additional questions. You might also make plans to attend our informative seminar, sponsored jointly by ShelterPoint Life, The DBL Center, and the New York Business Council, to be held May 10, 2017 from 3 to 5 PM at The Friars Club, 57 E 55th Street, NY, NY. Seating is limited, so RSVP today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your insurance agency is sure to get noticed if you use these tactics to reach prospective clients.
The world of insurance is changing rapidly, but word-of-mouth referrals remain the biggest source of leads for property and casualty brokers.
Word-of-mouth, today, means a lot more than attending local networking meetings or playing golf with business owners and HR directors.
To get noticed in a crowded environment, your insurance agency needs to stand out in every way. And this means raising the bar for the way you present your company and showcase your brand—online and off.
These five tips can help you raise the profile of your insurance agency and showcase your brand as trustworthy and professional. And remember, The DBL Center Ltd. is always here to help as your general agency insurance wholesaler, providing white-glove service to you and your customers.
1. Welcome callers with a professional voice mail.
Is your agency small? Is your office manager often overworked? Don’t waste time answering phones when a professional voice mail or answering service can help your customers reach who they want faster—without pulling employees away from their regular duties.
2. Create a strong social media presence.
More than 70 percent of insurance agents say they view social media marketing as their primary means to reach millennial customers. If you’re looking to connect with today’s up-and-coming HR directors and build trust, you need to be online. And while insurance agents know that, studies show they aren’t necessarily acting on it effectively. According to a survey by KnownCircle, Inc., a social media referral service, less than 30 percent are engaging with customers on social media. In fact, most agencies (more than 60 percent) simply build a social profile on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and then ignore it.
Set your agency apart by building a social profile that is consistent with your branding, and then keeping it updated with relevant content.
3. Build a better website.
Does your website look like it was designed in 2005? Or even 2010? Like clothes, cars, and home décor, web designs go out of fashion. If your website was designed more than five years ago (or looks like it was!) it’s time for an update.
While you’re re-designing the site, make sure the branding across your organization (from your website to social media platforms to business cards, letterhead, and in-office signage) are all consistent, modern, and enticing.
4. Provide 24/7 service to your customers.
Today’s customers are more demanding than ever, largely driven by millennials. According to one article in Entrepreneur, 71 percent of millennials say the most important thing is that an organization values their time. And 25 percent expect a response within 10 minutes of reaching out to a company via social media.
This goes back to building a strong web presence, paying attention to how customers feel about your brand, and engaging with your customers—which would all make sense if you were dealing direct with consumer. However, because you are working in a B2B environment, you have the luxury of streamlining that path to engagement and customer service: Give your customers an easy way to get help 24/7 through your insurance wholesaler.
5. Use a wholesale general insurance agency as your full-service, back-office support staff.
Here at The DBL Center Ltd., we make it easy for you to present a professional image and white-glove support to your customers. We are your full-service, back-office support staff answering questions, helping your customers file claims, and providing information on claims filed. Our professionally designed web interface makes it easy.
And, as a broker working with us, our mobile app and website make it easy for you to provide the service your customers need, too. Whether you’re writing a new policy or upgrading mandatory DBL to enriched DBL coverage to give your customers more value, we are here to help you serve your customers with speed and professionalism.
When it’s time to move on, The DBL Center can help.
We live in an uncertain world. No one is sure what the economy will do, how a revamped national health care plan will affect health insurance brokers, or the cascading effects such a plan will have on property & casual brokers. Many of us in the industry (including The DBL Center) plan to stay the course, adapt, and prevail. But that may not be the right course of action for every broker.
P&C brokers have a number of reasons they may want to sell their agency. There may not be an adult child or close friend willing and able to take over the family business. Maybe the owner is just ready to cash in on the fruits of their labor after all these years and enjoy retirement, or maybe there is a health issue. Or maybe an agency owner wants to take a full advantage of today’s valuation and multiples on today’s agencies across the country.
When selling is the right exit strategy, who do you sell to? This isn’t an easy decision.
Turn to Those Who Know
You know how to run an insurance brokerage. But you probably don’t know how to get the most value for it when you decide to sell.
The DBL Center Ltd. and Helfer & Associates, a consulting and advisory firm focused exclusively on the insurance agency industry, have forged a mutually beneficial agreement to help DBL Center brokers formulate and deploy an exit strategy when the time comes.
Kenny Helfer, Managing Partner of Helfer & Associates, is a trusted consultant specializing in independent insurance agencies and brokers that provide both property & casualty, as well as life & health benefits. Kenny’s firm provides substantive value for any agency owner looking to take some chips off the table for a variety of reasons. He prepares strategic road maps and financial analytics for agency owners looking for potential exit strategies. This includes formal introductions to all the major buyers in the market, based on the personal relationships Kenny has developed over his years in the industry. His proven track record, expertise, and assistance spans all phases of the preparation and sale. His goal is to maximize the value of an agency of any size and to generate the best possible deal, structure, and outcome for his agency clients. Most importantly, he guides the entire process and removes the stress that could come with the most important business transaction of one’s life.
Weathering the Change
Undoubtedly, the sale of an insurance brokerage can create stress on existing employees involved in the acquisition, which can lead to the loss of top talent within the agency. Employees may be unsure of their job security, the new management structure, and their new employer’s expectations. Helfer & Associates works with the new management team to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible to improve retention of the firm’s greatest asset – their people.
Stay with Those You Trust
One mistake insurance brokerages often make following a sale is switching their wholesale insurance general agency. When a larger firm buys a smaller firm, they might switch wholesalers to keep everything under the umbrella of the parent company—simply because that’s the way the larger firm has always done things. This isn’t always the right choice.
If brokers are accustomed to working with a best-in-class insurance wholesaler with access to top A+++ rated carriers and a host of value-added products and services like The DBL Center, changing insurance wholesalers can create culture shock, frustration, and, again, problems retaining top employees.
If your insurance wholesaler is providing the white-glove service you and your employees have come to expect, finding a way to continue working together following the sale could help ease the transition to new ownership, retain top employees, and maintain the firm’s value. After all, it is the people, the insurance products, and the service that gives a brokerage firm its value—before and after the sale.
The DBL Center Ltd. works hard to earn, and sustain, our brokers’ trust. We provide a host of value-added services, as well as carrying many ancillary lines of coverage to help brokers easily expand their book of business and increase commissions. With advanced technology that allows our brokers to more easily write and manage accounts, The DBL Center stays at the forefront of the insurance industry. We believed informed customers are our best customers, so we stay ahead of important industry news, like New York’s new Paid Family Leave law, passing the information on to our brokers as it is announced. We are ready with top carriers who can provide brokers with the products they need once mandatory PFL goes into place.
Is It Time?
Choosing to sell your insurance brokerage and leave your livelihood is not an easy decision. And it’s obviously not the right choice for everyone. But when the time comes, DBL Center Ltd., working with Helfer & Associates, can help you create an exit strategy you can feel good about while helping to maintain consistency within the organization.
Contact us to find out how you can get the highest valuation for your agency.